LUGANO, Switzerland, June 4 /PRNewswire/ --

- Award and Lecture Mark Anniversary of Monoclonal Antibodies

Today, physicians and patient group representatives from around the world celebrated the presentation of the San Salvatore Foundation award for outstanding achievement in the field of malignant lymphoma and the Henry Kaplan Memorial Lecture at the 10th International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma (ICML) in Lugano, Switzerland. Previous recipients of the award joined this year's winner, Professor Bertrand Coiffier, for a special event to reflect on the progress that has been made in the treatment of the disease through the development of monoclonal antibodies.

Monoclonal antibodies, or "magic bullets" as they have become known, are laboratory-produced substances that recognise and bind onto a specific target on the surface of a cell. This class of drugs was developed to address the need for treatments with a greater degree of specificity, to reduce the side effects associated with medication. Unlike more traditional forms of anti-cancer therapy that damage healthy tissues as well as tumour cells, monoclonal antibodies recognise only one target. They can also make tumour cells more sensitive to chemotherapy, which further enhances their efficacy. Rituximab was the world's first licensed monoclonal antibody therapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), the most common cancer of the lymphatic system, and is currently used in patients with indolent and aggressive forms of the disease. To date, over one million patients have been treated with the drug(1).

Joining a long line of prestigious winners, including Dr Robert Gallo, the co-discoverer of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Professor Coiffier said "I am delighted to have been presented with the 2008 San Salvatore Foundation award. The last 10 years has been an exciting time for doctors working in lymphoma. We can now offer patients a much better chance of cure thanks to monoclonal antibodies and it is an honour to give this special lecture to highlight potential future options, which will hopefully continue to make a real difference to patients."

Worldwide, approximately 360,000 new cases of lymphoma diagnosed every Year(2) and there are currently one million people living with lymphoma(2). Although the exact cause of lymphoma is unknown, with early and accurate diagnosis and appropriate management, the disease can be successfully treated and, in some cases, patients can be cured.

The special event that followed the presentation of this year's San Salvatore Foundation award and the Henry Kaplan Memorial Lecture was sponsored by an unrestricted educational grant from F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.


1. Roche data on file

2. J. Ferlay, F. Bray, P. Pisani and D.M. Parkin. GLOBOCAN 2002: Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide IARC CancerBase No. 5. version 2.0, IARCPress, Lyon, 2004

For more information, please contact: Luke Willats, Phone: +44(0)207-611-3651, E-mail: